By Aare Afe Babalola
I have read the interview granted by the Chief Executive Officer and Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, which was given a copious mention in the May 6, 2019 edition of The Nation.
I commend and congratulate JAMB under Prof. Oloyede for taking on the gauntlet to fight these fraudsters in order to sanitize the system of admission into Nigerian universities.
To address this issue, it is important to stress that the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) was established pursuant to Section 1 of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board Act, CapJ1, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 which came into effect on September 7, 1989.
Pursuant to the law, JAMB has the general control of the conduct of matriculation examinations for admissions into tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
Nigeria, as I all know, is currently facing a labyrinth of problems one of which is poor quality of education as a result of which our public universities annually churn out half-baked graduates who find it difficult to compete in the ever competitive global marketplace.
Everywhere all over the world, universities are established for learning and character. This is one of the main reasons why we whole-heartedly support the current JAMB war against admission fraudsters. But then, the point must be made that admission fraud into our universities is not a new thing. It has always been there, may be not at the level we know it today.
When I was Pro Chancellor and Chairman of Council of the University of Lagos between 2000 and 2007, I discovered that each time we wanted to start the Semester examinations, some students usually caused trouble to ensure that such examinations did not hold. We went into action and found that it was those who procured very high JAMB marks from “Miracle Centres” but who could not cope with the space and speed of Academic works that were the architects of the chaos to prevent the conduct of examinations.
It is therefore no surprise to me that JAMB has found a whole professor writing examination for his son including accusations of some fraudsters collaborating with JAMB personnel.
Integrity of its examinations compromised
It was matters like this that led to my campaign when I was the Chairman of Pro Chancellors of Nigerian universities that JAMB should be scrapped because the integrity of its examinations had been compromised.
However, government in its wisdom, decided to adopt a middle way approach to the matter by directing that JAMB should not be scrapped, but instead that tertiary institutions could screen candidates they want to admit through the Post-UTME after such candidates have successfully passed their JAMB Examinations.
In developed countries, every university has the right to screen the candidates it wants to admit. It also has the right to embark on other exercises, whether written or unwritten, to make it and its products stand out. It is for this reason that any student applying to study Law in the University of Oxford is mandatorily required to take the Law National Aptitude Test (LNAT), any student applying for Biomedical Sciences must take Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT), any student applying for Chemistry must take Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) while any one applying for Classics must take Classics Admission Test (CAT).
While I agree that JAMB should continue to sanitize the admission process, it should not be done at the expense of international best practices. For example, all over the world, the university Academic calendar is usually between September and June. But the case is different with public universities in Nigeria where the pandemic strike actions afflicting Nigeria’s educational landscape has almost become a ritual with one strike action taking off no sooner than another one that has just been called off, thereby nearly bringing the nation to its knees, educationally speaking.
For example, public universities in Nigeria are yet to complete First Semester works for the 2018/2019 Academic Session in the same country where private universities, including Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, are winding up for the session, ready to go on vacation.
Indeed, the private universities have made preparations for admission for the 2019/2020 Academic session. Most private universities, including ABUAD, are therefore disturbed at the delay in releasing the result of the last JAMB Examination which was conducted between April 11 and 18, 2019.
I sympathize with parents and children, particularly the innocent ones, whose results are being withheld because of the misdeeds of others. It is on this note that I will like to appeal to JAMB to do the best it could to fast-track its on-going commendable Biometric Verification exercise and release the results of its recently conducted examinations so that when we are combatting the fraudsters, the innocent parents and children do not suffer.
*Aare Afe Babalola, OFR, CON, SAN, is the Founder & Chancellor of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti.